The Wild Dogs
There was a lot of things I wasn’t sure about when I went to Africa, one of the biggest was what I was going to see. We all know about the big game that the continent offers and the amazing opportunities that exist but as a photographer you never know whats going to happen until you actually show up. Well I was told that I would see lions and elephants and so many other critters but as it turned out there was a few species that I didn’t know about that turned out to be my favorites. One of those species was the Wild Dogs.
Sadly there are a lot of endangered species in Africa and the Wild Dogs are one of those. With only 450 in South Africa, 260 in Kruger National Park, this species is very illusive and very hard to see. In our group was one individual who spent two years trying to see and photograph them and thankfully he was able to on our trip. We first found this pack of 12 individuals on the move through the thicket. They smelled a kill a Leopard had stashed in a tree but was unable to reach it. They ran off fast towards the next kill which made it difficult for us to keep up with them. When we finally did they had killed a doe and fawn Buchbuck in the river bed. Watching the group dynamics of the pack was very interesting.
The adults were always on the lookout in a perimeter around the pups. The pups would eat while the adults were watching. Everything they did was in a group function. Whenever one would leave they would watch, when one would come back they would go and greet them. Working with wolves in Yellowstone over the years I’ve seen a lot of group activity amongst packs but nothing like with these dogs. The guides told us that the effective kill rate of this species is about 70% where as Lions and Leopards only have a 30-40% rate. It’s pretty impressive what they can do.